Get ready, He-Man fans: DC Comics is getting ready to launch a brand new take on the Masters of the Universe this July, in a six issue comic book series written by James Robinson, with pencils by Phillip Tan and inks from Ruy Jose. And that’s not the end of the surprises… As the series starts, the evil Skeletor has already won!
That’s right: the skull faced arch-enemy of He-Man has figured out a way to rewrite the reality of Eternia, casting himself as the ruler of Castle Grayskull, and our heroes – including He-Man – as regular peasants with no memory of their previous life. And while simple woodsman Adam may dream of wielding a massive sword, and fighting in battles, he thinks they’re just dreams. That is, until a mysterious sorceress approaches him, and sends him on an epic journey to save all of Eternia.
To find out more, we chatted with Robinson about where the series is going, if this is just the tip of the iceberg for the Masters of the Universe, and whether a certain fan favorite (well, us favorite) will return:
MTV Geek: Why Masters of The Universe? I think most people nowadays know it from a somewhat cheesy cartoon, and a somewhat cheesier movie – what draws you to the property? Is it a chance to really go back and reinvent from an almost blank slate, in a way?
James Robinson: I agree to some people Masters of the Universe is considered a cheesy cartoon. However, I know for a fact that a certain generation of people, who grew up at the right time, hold genuine affection for Masters of the Universe. The challenge is to write something that raises the standard for the series, with a cool, modern story that nevertheless honors the fans of the animated series and toy line.
Geek: How much reinvention versus continuation are we going to see in the book? It seems, like a lot of these ’80s properties, your approach is a way of honoring the old fans, while allowing an easy access point for new ones.
JR: As I say, that’s the challenge. Let’s just say I’ve come up with a series concept that introduces the line of characters to new readers in what I hope is a fresh, dynamic and compelling way while honoring what the series has been prior.
Geek: Let’s talk about the characters… What’s going on with Adam? He’s in a pretty interesting place when this all starts.
JR: Adam is in a place where he really has to reconnect with what it means to be a Master of the Universe. It’s his odyssey, much like the Greek myth in fact, that is the backbone of this series.
Geek: Skeletor walks the line between terrifying, and very, very silly… What are you going for here? What’s his motivation, and how will he play throughout the series?
JR: He’s terrifying. Period. The silly era is done and gone. Phillip and I are taking great pains to make Skeletor, who is after all a barbarian warrior with a skull face, into a horrifying and worthy foe for He-Man. As to motivation, much like before he wants it all. Eternia. Castle Greyskull. Adam’s head on a plate. Everything. He’s just going to be much more ruthless in how he goes about getting it.
Geek: There’s also a “mysterious sorceress” who kicks off the proceedings. Is she someone we’ve met before? What game is she playing? Oh, and she’s She-Ra, right? Right???
JR: Not She-Ra I’m afraid. Although the sorceress is very important to Adam’s odyssey taking shape.
Geek: This is a bit of personal question, but are we going to see Orko in this series? I don’t want to brag, but I won a costume contest dressed as him when I was seven.
JR: Congratulations! Yes, there is a possibility you’ll see Orko by the end of the series.
Geek: What other characters are we going to see popping up? And was there anyone you weren’t able to fit in?
JR: Yeah, Orko until you mentioned him. Apart from that, no, I’m going to try and get every character in, if only in our epic climax.
Geek: You have Philip Tan on pencils, and he’s clearly been doing some fabulous fantasy work on Hawkman – if you’ve seen any of it yet, what’s his work like here? What does he bring to the project?
JR: Truthfully, I haven’t seen the work yet, however based in Philip’s work on Batman & Robin, Green Lantern and Hawkman, he’ll brings a darkness and mood, coupled with a dynamic storytelling that will definitely add a unique quality to this Masters of the Universe relaunch.
Geek: This may be a little too literal, but I’ve always wondered why they were called “Masters of the UNIVERSE,” when they only hung out on Eternia – are we going to see any exploration of places beyond Eternia in this series, or more of a fleshing out of that side of the concept?
JR: A little too literal? Boy that’s an understatement. Seriously though, that’s a good question and one that deserves it’s own arc. However that isn’t this arc, which is more concerned with reintroducing the Masters of the Universe and the world of Eternia to a new generation.
Geek: …And this may be above your pay-grade, but I imagine these comics are somewhat a testing ground for the franchise, to see if it can be reinvented for TV, action figures, movies, etc… Has that been part of the discussion at all? And when you’ve been writing this, has your eye turned to that side of the business at all?
JR: Honestly I don’t know. Mattel has been very supportive to my ideas, I do know that. I’m sure as a company they’ve got their eye on all their franchises for the best way to make the most of them. I know I would.
Geek: Just to wrap up, between finally revealing the life of The Shade on an epic, globe-trotting journey, creating a whole new world with Earth Two, and reinventing Masters of the Universe, are you going to want to write a nice, small character piece after this is all done? Or do you have even bigger plans?
JR: No, my plans are a couple of more character based ideas, although even those have some pretty epic brush strokes. Oh and I’m working on a novel, that I’m very happy with so far and will have done by the end of the year. Thanks for asking.
HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE #1 hits comic book stands from DC Comics in July!